Saturday, July 26, 2014

Provençal Tea

I decided to do this year's tea as a French-themed garden party.  It fell the weekend after Bastille Day, but I did it mostly because I wanted to use my new patio furniture.  It actually ended up South of France, with a slight Italian influence.  I got out the hand towels and apron I bought in Antibes several years ago and made a whole bunch of cute stuff.
The spice merchant at the very cool Farmer's Market in Antibes

Because I was baking at work all week and had to work the morning of the tea, nearly everything I served was do-ahead.  Most of it was in the freezer and just had to be pulled out in the morning and plated.  The only thing I made that day was the prosciutto e melone and sliced the fresh fruit and baguette.  I just prepped or baked about two items a day and stored it properly until needed.  This is an excellent tactic for anyone with a busy schedule who wants to throw a party without a caterer.  If properly frozen, no one can tell a baked good isn't fresh, and many other items can be prepared a couple of days in advance without looking like leftovers.  Really, fresh fruits and vegetables are the only things that will look old, and reheated meats can end up overcooked.
This was the first tea party I had ever thrown without scones or cucumber sandwiches.  Those are not only expected, they're practically sacred at tea time.  It made me very nervous, but I was not about to overshadow the croissants, and the brie et baguette seemed more appropriate than cukes.  I also got lucky that my guests were all new to my tea, even though I had known them a while (in one case, all my life).  They had no idea what to expect.  Mwah, ha, ha!

First Course
Brie et baguette
Prosciutto e Melone
Onion mini-quiches

Second Course
Lemon Curd
Cherry Preserves

Third Course
Petit Fours
Fresh Fruit

Hot tea
Basil and Mint iced tea
Ginger Lemonade
Champagne (why not!)
Patio set plus a kitchen chair

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